Pokémon clones have kind of taken hold of digital storefronts across all platforms during the last few years. While most have been able to get their own amount of fanfare, a lot have been ultimately forgettable. Coromon is the latest title in the mix as it comes with an original story and a lot of familiar yet refined features to boot. Is that enough to make the plunge worth it? Let’s find out.
In some ways, Coromon feels much like a Pokémon knockoff from the get-go. It has the look, there are three starters to choose from, and with the elemental systems in play – it’s hard not to feel that nostalgic vibe that knocks deliberately on the cornerstones of what made a Pokémon game…well, Pokémon. Then the narrative kicks in, and players soon realize that all those familiar tones are intentional, almost as if the developer set out to make what feels like a dream game of sorts as a tribute.
Coromon puts the player in the role of a young recruit to a researching team for an organization dubbed “Lux Solis”. There are mysterious titans which you must obtain the essence of, and along your journey – there will be a ton of side features to keep you busy. Without going into spoilers, it feels like a bit of a science fiction novel laced with bits of mythology but built on the foundation we all know from its own inspirations. Sure, the plot isn’t anything extremely gripping, but it is well written and makes exploration interesting throughout. If anything – it may be more memorable than the very monsters you tame, which may or may not be a bad thing, depending on what the player may be looking for within this package.
Gameplay wise, I can’t really deny that most of the actual game feels just like Pokémon. Players battle with type advantages, explore the world, shop for items, and basically improve and tame their team for the sake of progression. As mentioned, the monsters are not exactly stand-out, but I personally think that’s ok. Pokémon had a card game and a successful anime adaptation to give its players the sense of extended personality in its video game world, and without that- Coromon (nor any other game like it) can’t create creatures that are distinct or memorable. The designs are nice, and some are better than others, but in comparison, it may be a little harder to really form those bonds with these creatures in that same way due to the lack of background for most.
What is memorable in this title is the way it plays the best features of the golden era of Pokémon as a whole. Ditching puzzle solving anchors like HMs and replacing them with streamlined devices from the start makes exploration easy and less of a chore, and those familiar with the competitive battle scene will be right at home as your monsters come with similar structures to that of the IV and nature system, with rarity and power being a prominent feature due to monsters having three available types that can give the player an advantage if they can farm the right species. Think of that like shiny hunting but in a more common sense, as while any monster can be an asset, the player who hunts a little more is sure to find a greater team as a result.
Puzzles across the world are entertaining and never felt tedious, at times even adding a bit of an action slant to the overall experience with the player simply being more involved with higher consequence for a misstep. I do think that there is a lot to love here for Pokémon fans or just fans of the monster taming sub-genre, but Coromon always felt like it was missing something almost from the start. All the right ingredients are there to make this feel like a definitive experience, but they feel like they never rub together quite right to connect, as if the game is taking the best elements of one experience to build something special but still managing feel a little hollow because it is missing those minor irritating nuances that create balance. I get what they were going for here and appreciate how much effort and work went into this project. However, this game lacks some of the substance and heart that adds the replayability that makes players want to stay in this world – rather than just visit.
Visually, this game is a treat. Coromon’s finest features come with the pixel-art graphics, paying homage to the GBA and DS generations of Pokémon. The environments are full of detail and popping with color, and animations do wonders to build this world into a great place to explore. I didn’t love some of the monsters, but others are inventive and even a bit endearing. As mentioned, there was a lot of time and effort applied and the designs show off the work of some truly imaginative developers.
The music is also great, as it blends well with that sci-fi theme and gives us a nice atmosphere that coats the experience. I think the cries are better than Pokémon in some ways as they sound more realistic and add shades of personality to the monsters within. For contrast, Pokémon still rely on cries that sound like screeches and gargles of noise. The Coromon themeselves sound unique and while not every sound is perfect, there is an obvious distinction between the two brands.
It is hard really putting a score on something like Coromon to do it justice. Pokémon is a refined franchise that has been around for over 25 years now. Coromon just doesn’t feel as connected as those older experiences by default and that hurts it before it even hits the ground running. That said, it is a great game on its own, one that honestly may have been better without the monster taming experience being at the forefront. The story is great, and I loved the world within, but when you take another formula for a successful product that is so well-known and familiar and then use that to build something unique, it’s hard for the player not to feel holes as they start to progress forward. Ultimately, those holes are left unfilled.
There is something special about seeing further evolution of Nintendo’s own forgotten territories, and Coromon does well with its delivery of that to its credit. As it stands, Coromon feels more like a novelty or a tribute – rather than an alternative, but still good enough to invest a weekend in for a fun trek through an imaginative world.
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